Cooking Cove: A medley of melon recipes

Cooking Cove: A medley of melon recipes

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By Barbara Beltrami

It used to be that melon was melon.  Period.  My mother used to halve or quarter a cantaloupe or honeydew, scoop out the seeds, plunk the salt shaker on the table, and that was melon the only way I knew it. Watermelon got a little different treatment; it was halved or quartered and sliced into triangles, but there was no salt.

But now melon has become a whole new phenomenon. Used in an amazing variety of preparations and dishes, it’s all grown up and no longer a loner, but an actual ingredient in myriad recipes. 

You are probably familiar with cantaloupe or honeydew with prosciutto and watermelon with feta cheese, two winning combos that are testimony to sweet and salty being ideal complements to each other. Maybe you’ve even had melon gazpacho or soup or salad where it’s enhanced by savory herbs, spices and veggies. My mother would be incredulous!

Melon Salad with Shrimp, Prosciutto and Feta

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked

Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon

3 pounds melon, seeded, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 

8 slices prosciutto, torn into bite size pieces

1/2 cup crumbled feta

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, toss together the shrimp, lemon juice, and melon mixture with onion, jalapeño and bell pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, honey, oil, salt and pepper. When ready to serve, toss shrimp and melon mixture with lime juice mixture and top with prosciutto and feta. Serve immediately with corn bread. .

Melon Salsa

YIELD: Makes about 3 cups

INGREDIENTS: 

Zest from 1 small lime

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon sugar

Freshly ground white pepper to taste

3 cups seeded and minced cantaloupe, honeydew or watermelon or a combination 

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced

1 mango, peeled and finely diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1 small onion, peeled and minced

Leaves from one sprig fresh basil, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl combine the lime zest, juice, sugar and pepper; add remaining ingredients, toss, cover, and refrigerate up to 4 hours. Serve with tortilla chips as an hors d’oeuvre or with grilled beef, pork or chicken

Green Gazpacho with Honeydew

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 ripe honeydew melon, seeded, removed from rind and coarsely chopped

1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 ripe kiwi, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup seedless green grapes, washed, halved

1 cup packed arugula 

1/4 cup chopped basil leaves

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

4 scallions, white and green parts sliced

1 serrano chili, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Freshly squeezed juice of one lime

1 tablespoon sugar

1 ripe avocado, peeled and coarsely sliced or chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

In the bowl of an electric food processor, puree the melon, cucumber, kiwi, grapes, arugula, basil, cilantro, scallions, chili, oil, vinegar, lime juice, sugar, avocado and salt and pepper; stop to scrape bowl often. When smooth, transfer to large bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least one hour.  Ladle into four soup bowls, top each with a dollop of sour cream and serve with a corn, bean and tomato salad.

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